Fonds régionaux de solidarité FTQ: 15 Year of Active Engagement in Québec's Regions

SAGUENAY, QC, May 31, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - Passing through Saguenay to highlight the 15th anniversary of the Fonds régionaux de solidarité FTQ, Yvon Bolduc, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, presented a positive report on the regional funds' 15-year structure before all the Fonds régionaux employees gathered in Saguenay for the occasion. Élaine Zakaïb, President and Chief Executive Officer of the regional network, also expressed her tremendous satisfaction with the volume of investments made last year by the regional funds.

The Fonds de solidarité FTQ network consists of 16 regional funds that can invest up to $2 million in regional businesses, 87 local funds that can provide financing of up to $100,000 through local development centres (CLD), and the head office, which handles requests for over $2 million.

"The Fonds de solidarité FTQ made a bold move in 1996 by creating a network of regional funds because it was clear that a new way had to be found to make the regions self sufficient. We're proud of what the networks have accomplished in the last 15 years. Thanks to their active presence and regional expertise, we have been able to offer business people an unmatched advantage. Given that 95% of Québec companies have less than 50 employees, it's important to serve the specific needs of SMEs. Our regional teams guide them with their growth projects. The synergy between our head office, the regional funds and the local funds allow us to work with our partner companies on each stage of their development, and as a result, all of Québec wins," said Mr. Bolduc.

A unique business model for 15 years

Just like the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, the Fonds régionaux's mission is to create, maintain and preserve jobs to help drive Québec's economic development. In 15 years, the Fonds régionaux contributed to creating and maintaining over 29,000 jobs by investing a total of $392 million in nearly 800 companies across the province.

"Our strength lies in our extensive knowledge of the regional economy. Every investment request is evaluated by people who have deep roots in their region. This means that entrepreneurs know that they are being heard by people who know and understand their economic reality. Regional businesses have a real need for capital to speed up their growth, which is why our network is accessible and our process, although rigorous, is flexible so as to optimize business opportunities and encourage innovative, promising projects," added Ms. Zakaïb.

A positive annual report for the 16 Fonds régionaux de solidarité FTQ

The fiscal year ended March 31, 2011 was good for the 16 regional funds, which backed 57 new businesses. The regional network invested $40.4 million in 88 companies this past year. As at March 31, 2011, the regional funds' overall portfolio contained 312 partner companies for $202 million in investments, bringing the total number of jobs created, maintained or preserved to over 12,900.

Examples of investments made during the last fiscal year include Fonds régional Saguenay, which continued its business relationship with Fenêtres AGM by making another investment to allow the company to acquire Fenêtres Polyco de Jonquière. In so doing, Fenêtre AGM increased its payroll by some 47 jobs and secured an enviable position in its field. An investment by Fonds régional Abitibi-Témiscamingue helped relaunch LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), a laminated wood manufacturer in Ville-Marie, giving 130 workers their jobs back. For its part, Fonds régional Montérégie invested in the growth of Perfecta Plywood, a plywood manufacturer in St-Hyacinthe committed to making responsible use of forest products.  And lastly, Fonds régional de Québec provided the backing for a business transfer by Les Aliments 2000, a bakery specializing in homemade-style pizza dough.

In the heart of the action in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

In Saguenay - Lac-St-Jean, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and its regional fund have injected upwards of $140 million in over 70 companies to date. Regional manager Claude Potvin is proud of the trust his regional partners have placed in his organization. According to Mr. Potvin, "Saguenay is a vibrant region whose business owners have demonstrated tremendous creativity. Last year alone, we backed 11 projects."

Managing the AP60 development fund

Mr. Potvin also applauded the professionalism and expertise of his team, which was selected by Rio Tinto Alcan to manage its AP60 fund. "Our team has stood out since 2007 for its active management of this specialized $8 million fund, which aims to boost the competitiveness of regional equipment manufacturers and entrepreneurs involved in the development of AP60 smelting technology."

Facilitating business succession

Mindful of the tremendous business succession challenge facing Québec, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and its network are playing a key role, by, among other things, aligning themselves with "Opération relève Québec 2011," a vast information and networking campaign aimed at both business buyers and sellers that takes the form of workshop-conferences in 13 cities. "Québec SMEs are being confronted with this issue, and they have a real need for guidance and funding. We play an active role, either by financing a management buyout or trying to find an outside buyer. This past year, the Fonds régionaux backed 24 business transfers totalling $14 million. For instance, seven changeovers took place in the Québec City and Chaudière Appalaches regions alone, with the result that 221 jobs were kept in Québec," concluded Ms. Zakaïb.

About the Fonds de solidarité FTQ

The Fonds de solidarité FTQ helps drive our economy. With net assets of $7.7 billion as at November 30, 2010, the Fonds is a development capital investment fund that through its 16 regional funds and 87 local funds channels the savings of Quebecers into investments in all sectors of the Québec economy to further the province's economic growth. The Fonds is a partner, either directly or through its network members, in 2,052 companies. With its 577,511 owner-shareholders, it has helped, on its own or with other financial partners, to create, maintain and protect 150,133 jobs. For more information, visit www.fondsftq.com.


SOURCE SOLIDARITY FUND QFL

For further information:

Guylaine Fortin
Communications Manager
Fonds régionaux de solidarité FTQ
Telephone: 514.383.2548
Cell: 514.814.2951
E-mail: gfortin@fondsreg.com

Josée Lagacé
Senior Advisor, Press Relations and Communications
Fonds de solidarité FTQ
Telephone: 514 850-4835
Cell: 514 707-5180
E-mail: jlagace@fondsftq.com

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